Urban Farm Updates, April 13th 2017

Fun on the Farm!

So, most of us know that bee keepers often use smoke to “calm” the bees, and enable the handler to access the hive for honey collection and maintenance. But why smoke, and how does it work? Smoke disables the bees ability to smell, while it also triggers their survival response. The bees’ instinct when exposed to smoke, it that there is a forest fire and they must take action to flee and save the hive. They gorge themselves on honey, and then fly away from the hive. This overeating habit, makes the bees more lethargic, and also swells their abdomen to the degree that they are incapable of stinging anyone. 10 to 20 minutes after the smoke is removed the bees ability to smell returns, and they often return to the hive within 30 minutes of the smoking.

What’s Growing on?

Is it over yet?? This week was such a whirlwind, my head is still spinning!!
Where do I even start?
Developing a plan for getting the truck into the driveway of the farm.

Developing a plan for getting the truck into the driveway of the farm.

He did it!! Now, we have to unload the very sticky compost material (the trailer was wet when the compost was loaded).

He did it!! Now, we have to unload the very sticky compost material (the trailer was wet when the compost was loaded).

I guess the best place to start, is with Atlas Organics, because they donated some beautiful, fabulous, oh-so-amazing compost to us last week, and I cannot say enough praise about their product and their delivery driver! Eddie, my goodness, that man is not only an incredible truck driver, he is a just plain awesome! He somehow managed to back a tractor trailer (yes people, a 60 foot trailer), into the Urban Farm driveway, to deliver 23 cubic yards of the best smelling composted material!

Such beautiful looking organic material! Love it!

Such beautiful looking organic material! Love it!

It took almost an hour, but he never gave up, and he got it in there without running over the fence or destroying the truck! Unbelievable!! I am in awe! I have so much appreciation for the work that truck drivers do, and this is no exception! So, thank you so so soooo much, Eddie and everyone at Atlas Organics! Anyone that is familiar with the layout of the Urban Farm will understand how much of a feat this was!!

The canvas tarping that will be hung along the back wall of the farm.

The canvas tarping that will be hung along the back wall of the farm.

The rest of last week and earlier week was full of farm inspections, meetings, farm tours and environmental classes; including preparing for the Spartanburg Water Volunteer Day on the 22nd of April. So, some of the things that I had to do was order some of the coolant supplies, fans etc for the greenhouse, so that the crew can help me to install them. Needless to say, they all came in at once, so our office is now jam packed with gigantic boxes that I have to ferry over to the farm… So, I came into the office Monday morning, and ran face first into a box, before I turned all of the lights on! Well, if I wasn’t awake before…… Then I spend much of the day working at the farm and preparing for the class that I will be hosting on Saturday.

Now, I had been asked a while back to come and lead a class on eco-friendly living at the Spartanburg Senior’s Take Charge April program; so this Tuesday morning, I went over to Cleveland Park and met with the neatest group of 50+ individuals! We laughed, joked, learned and had a fun activity! One of the best parts of my job is to get to speak to different groups throughout the county and share environmental sustainability with people of all walks of life! Thank you so much, County Parks and Rec for letting me a part of this year’s Environmental program!
We filled all of the free 5 gallon buckets on the farm, and hand watered the 3,000+ plants in the greenhouse.

We filled all of the free 5 gallon buckets on the farm, and hand watered the 3,000+ plants in the greenhouse.

Have you ever seen an old black and white film where all of the cast are moving in fast forward passing buckets from one another to put out a fire, while one guy at the end sloppily fills the pails with water from the closest source of water, like a lake or water spigot? Well, that was us HCFM staff on Tuesday afternoon…. Except we were watering crops, not putting out a fire! I was on day 4 of going without water at the Urban Farm, and in the Greenhouse, I was in crisis aversion mode. We were filling 5 gallon buckets with water as fast as we could and trucking them down to the greenhouse, to hand water the several thousand plants I currently have in the greenhouse.

 The farm got caught in the middle of a transition between having the water line being disconnected from the Farley Street line, and diverted to the Howard Street line, when something went amiss. Somehow a part did not end up where it needed to be, so the farm could not be reconnected to the old line, or connected to the new line. So, all of the staff pitched in, and we got the place watered… by hand……
Thanks Palmetto Vermiculite, for letting me test it out!

Thanks Palmetto Vermiculite, for letting me test it out!

I also got a bag of Vermiculite to play around with from Palmetto Vermiculite, and so I will also be testing out this week, playing with different concentration combinations in soil, to measure water absorption and retention. I have never worked with pure vermiculite before, only ever dealt with it in prepared soil mixes, and so far, I really like it! I am very impressed with the water retention abilities, and am excited to be able to incorporate some vermiculite into the compost from Atlas Organics, when we build all of the new grow structures at the farm on the 22nd.

On Wednesday, we still did not have water at the Urban Farm, and things are starting to get stressful!!
On Wednesday morning, I prepared some more materials for a college forum I will attend on Thursday, and then I went to help out some individuals with a potential community/school garden. Planning, designing and working out all of the moving parts to a community or school garden can take a lot of work, and part of my job is to make that easier, streamline the process and help everyone to take all of the right steps, in the right order, at the right time; making the job more efficient and a lot smoother for everyone involved.
20lbs of produce harvested on Wednesday morning. If I have time, I will be going back for another ~30lbs of produce later on in the day....

20lbs of produce harvested in the morning, and if I have time, I will be going back for another ~30lbs of produce later on in the day….

I also spent some time this week harvesting produce from the farm, including the first harvest of Collards and Kale, for 2017!

Then on Thursday I had a meeting in the morning, followed by the college forum. Busy, busy, busy……
And now I am looking ahead to the weekend, because this Saturday (4/15/17) I will be hosting the Open Farm Saturday for the month of April. The farm will be open to the public for farm tours and volunteers from 8:30am to noon time, and there will be a really cool gardening class from 10am to 11am ($5.00 per person). The gardening class topic this month will be ‘DIY Gardening’; students will be learning how to reuse and upcycle things that they have around their home, and garden on the cheap. Most of the things that are needed in the garden can be found or made from regular household items, saving loads of money, and a trip to the store. Come on down, if this sounds like something that would interest you! Please feel free to email me if you have any questions, comments or feedback (mwhiteley@hubcityfm.org). See ya’ll on Saturday!!

Posted in Urban Farm